LONDON: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Russia to speed delivery of the S-400 missile system as he also took aim at international ratings agencies which he accused of deliberately trying to undermine the lira.
President Erdogan has raised his rhetoric in recent days amid a currency crisis at home triggered by US President Donald Trump’s move to slap tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum exports in response to the detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson for the last two years.
Yesterday he accused Western credit rating agencies of deliberately attempting to weaken the banking sector. It came after Moody’s and Fitch highlighted the negative impact of the currency rout on the country’s banking sector. “If they have their dollars, we have our God. They can’t topple Turkey with dollars,” he told supporters. “Put this aside, leave those impostors, those racketeers. They have said a lot of things about us.”
The Turkish president on Friday switched between the economy and security as he addressed different audiences while the government sought to stop the flow of funds out of the country following a 42 percent decline in the value of the lira against the dollar since the beginning of the year.
Turkey yesterday raised tax on foreign currency deposits to help support the lira while at the same time cutting taxes on lira savings.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for military officers, Erdogan focused on a sophisticated Russian missile system that some Nato countries believe poses a threat to their aircraft.
“Turkey needs S-400s and its deal has been done,” Erdogan said on Friday. “God willing, we will buy them in the shortest time.” A spokesman for Russian defense conglomerate Rostec, the manufacturer of the S-400 missile system, told Arab News that delivery was slated for 2019.
“Our Turkish partners asked us to speed up the process of production and delivery of the systems, and the manufacturer met the needs of our colleagues. We expect that the first systems will be delivered to Turkey in 2019,” he said.
The S-400 is Moscow’s latest generation surface-to-air missile system. Jane’s Defense Weekly Europe editor, Nicholas Fiorenza, told Arab News that the missile purchase was part of a wider “regional game” and could raise concerns among other NATO countries.
“It is a missile system with significant capabilities,” said Fiorenza.
Russia’s Kommersant daily reported on Dec. 27 that Rostec could supply Turkey with four S-400 batteries for $2.5 billion.